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Calcium and Vitamin D: The Bone Builders

During pregnancy your baby needs calcium to build strong bones and teeth. He or she depends on you to get enough. If the foods you choose do not have enough calcium, the baby will use calcium you have stored in your bones. This can cause you to have weak bones that break easily. This condition is called osteoporosis. Milk and foods made from milk (dairy) are good sources of calcium. There are a few other foods that add calcium to your diet. Try to have at least 3 servings each day.

 

What foods have calcium?

  • Milk, including fat-free and low-fat milk
  • Yogurt
  • Cheese
  • Pudding
  • Cottage cheese
  • Custard
  • Calcium-fortified juices, whole grain cereals, milks
  • Canned fish such as sardines with bone, salmon
  • Soybeans or other soy products
  • Collard greens, kale, bok choy, broccoli

 

How much is one serving?

  • 1 cup of milk
  • 1 ½ ounce of cheese (about one slice)
  • 1 cup of yogurt
  • ½ cup of ice cream or frozen yogurt

 

What if I cannot eat dairy?

Some people may have stomach aches, gas, or diarrhea after eating dairy. These are common symptoms of “lactose intolerance.” This happens when the body cannot break down the natural sugar (lactose) in milk. Some people who are lactose intolerant can still have small amounts of dairy with no symptoms.

 

Tips for Reducing Symptoms of Lactose Intolerance

  • Reduce it. Consider buying and serving lactose free milk, lactose-free dairy products, and dairy alternatives like fortified soymilk
  • Sip it. Serve milk and dairy foods to your children with other foods. Try it with cereal, in smoothies, or with meals.
  • Stir it. Mix milk with other foods. Prepare hot cereals, like oatmeal, and soups with milk instead of water.
  • Slice it. Choose hard cheeses that are naturally lower in lactose. Examples are Cheddar, Monterey Jack, and Swiss.
  • Shred it. Sprinkle salads, vegetables, and casseroles with shredded cheese.
  • Spoon it. Try yogurts with your favorite fruit and add toppings like nuts, granola, or cereal.

 

Vitamin D - The Sunshine Vitamin

Your body needs vitamin D to help it use calcium. The best food source is vitamin D fortified milk and yogurt. Look for the words “vitamin D” on the label. Fatty fish, such as salmon and tuna also have vitamin D. Your body can make vitamin D when your skin is exposed to sunlight. Only 10-15 minutes of sun exposure on your body are needed each day to make vitamin D. If you have a darker skin color, keep your skin covered or are not outdoors, consider visiting with your doctor about vitamin D supplements.

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